5 years of mommy guilt

This is probably the first of many Lucy focused blog posts I’ll make in the next few days. She is turning 5 on Tuesday, and it just hit me like a ton of bricks. 5.
From a selfish point of view I can’t really fathom that I’ve been a mom for that long. But it could be that I haven’t always felt like one. I didn’t look like one. I still wore a lot of the stuff I wore in high school. I thought being the cool mom meant not acting or looking like a mom.
It’s funny how Lucy was breast fed and coslept just like Mila, but back then I was so embarrassed about it. I nursed because I didn’t trust Lucy’s biological dad to buy formula. That and I thought my value was measured by the number the scale said each morning so I loved that breastfeeding helped me to lose the weight (throw cigarettes and not eating enough calories in the mix and I was really a cool mom huh?) I’ve felt guilty about early mistakes for a long time, especially as I’ve read more and educated myself I feel so lucky that Lucy is as healthy as she is.
But what did I know? I thought preparing to be a mom meant seeking out a zebra print diaper bag. I didn’t read much and what I did read wasn’t really about caring for the baby, it was more about pregnancy symptoms and labor.
I am proud though that my instincts pushed through. I kept Lucy close. Holding her for all her naps. I never left her side in the first 6 months. Not a sitter, or even leaving her with her own dad. I held her all night and nursed her on demand. Not because of any book or Facebook group or Dr. Sears. But because that’s what my gut told me to do.
I’ve had times when I felt more connected to Lucy and times where I felt detached. Going back to work was hard. And I don’t want to offend any working moms but I’m just sharing my personal experience. But going back to work was something I never wanted to do, I wanted to be with my baby all day every day. But not enough to stay married to her father and so I had no choice.
When I did get a job it was full time. And going from having Lucy available to me constantly to a single mom schedule of getting up, frantically getting her ready, then myself, then get on a bus, drop her off at day care, work 8 hours, have grandma pick her up, wait for grandma to drop her off with me, eat, bathe, sleep. Then on the weekends she was with her biological dad or grandma. And I just got lost.
I think we just assume that because they love us unconditionally it means we don’t have to work at our relationship with our children. But that is so wrong! Just because children are forgiving doesn’t mean we should take advantage of that. And I fear that I did. I remember arguing with my mom to watch Lucy on one of only 2 days I had off work so I could go get tattooed. Now I can’t even imagine only having 2 whole days a week with Lucy, and then giving up one of those days.
I don’t know what I could have done differently. Or how I could have. But I missed more of ages 1-3 then I wish I had. And I’ll never get those days back.
On Lucy’s 3rd birthday I saw it in her eyes. She seemed so flustered and disorganized. I left my job and became a full time mom again. Focusing my whole life around making that girl happy. We moved from downtown to a more family friendly part of Seattle. And we spent all day every day playing at the park, going to events and activities, painting on the deck, tie dying t-shirts, baking cookies. It’s like I was making up for lost time or something. She is so much happier now. Even just the difference from her 3rd birthday to her 4th. She was beaming, and confident and kind. She is a happy happy child.
I try not to feel guilty for those times though. I had to do what I had to do to. Bills have to get paid. You have to put food on the table. And just because I had remarried didn’t mean I was ready to put all that responsibility on one person. We had to wait til it was what was best for all of us.
I realize this post about Lucy because paragraph after paragraph of bad mom confessions. But I worry that with all my #breastisbest and babywearing groups and homemade baby food it seems like I’m wearing this mask of “hi! I’m jill, aren’t I like the best mom ever?!” Which isn’t at all what I’m going for. It’s more like :
Hi, I’m. Jill. I haven’t always taken my role as a mother seriously, and that was a mistake. A mistake I don’t plan on ever making again. So now I take motherhood very seriously and treat each day with my girls like a gift.

5 thoughts on “5 years of mommy guilt

  1. I love it when bloggers get really honest and show something they’re not so proud of, it takes courage and well done for doing it! It’s easy to just show the best bits and your right that doesn’t give a true picture of who u are. Your right not to beat urself up, u did the best job u knew how to do and your children are happy and healthy 🙂 thanks for sharing such a personal topic x

    • Thank you!! Parenting is such a learning process! I know there are moms who just get it right, their first time at bat. But it took me time to figure out what made me and my daughter our happiest.

  2. It takes a lot of guts to admit your mistakes, but the past is the past and you can only move forward. You are one incredible mamma and your girls are soooo lucky to have you!!

  3. Bravo for being brave enough to admit that you made mistakes. You’re right, parenting is totally a learning experience. There are things I did early on with my oldest son, Kaleb, that I have made it a point not to do the second time around with Miles. There are things that I didn’t know any better about and now that I do, I almost cringe when remembering those early mistakes. Its all about learning, improving and moving on.

  4. Ahh I have tears in my eyes. This is the best! You are a wonderful mom for continually improving for your sweet girls!

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